Going into Friday morning, there was an optimistic atmosphere surrounding NBA labor talks. Unfortunately, talks broke off Friday evening and all NBA games through November 30th have now been canceled.
NBA commissioner David Stern, who had been optimistic at the possibility of still salvaging an 82-game season just a week ago, has now stated, “It’s not practical, possible or prudent to have a full season now. We held out that joint hope together, but in light of the breakdown of talks, there will not be a full NBA season under any circumstances. I say that with apologies to the municipalities in which we play our games, to the workers who earn their living in our buildings, and from businesses around the buildings.”
So now that it appears that any NBA season will be at most a shortened season, it's time to analyze the effects it will have on teams. Many teams will benefit from a shortened season for a number of reasons. The performance of these teams in a shortened season can be effected by a number of factors, including age, depth and chemistry among others. These are seven teams that will benefit from a shortened NBA season.
The Blazers are a solid team that was able to challenge the 2011 NBA champion Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs. However, they are not living up to their full potential mostly because of injury trouble.
The Trailblazers are a team stacked with loads of talent. They have a couple good players in Aldridge and Wallace, and Felton, Matthews and Batum are all on the rise. The only thing that has kept them from making a deep playoff run in the past few seasons has been injuries to Greg Oden and Brandon Roy.
While there isn't any guarantee that Oden and Roy can stay healthy, with a shortened season the Trailblazers may be able to avoid having any key players getting hurt, which means you could expect Portland to surprise a lot of teams and possibly make a playoff run.
The Phoenix Suns have a very big reason to worry. Grant Hill is 39, Steve Nash is 37, and Vince Carter is 34. To make matters worse, they were also the top three scorers for Phoenix last season. So much of the Suns offense is reliant on just those three players, so they will take any extra rest they can get.
Phoenix should use every game missed as an opportunity to rest Carter, Nash and Hill and attempt to get them into shape so that they can play with a high amount of energy and lead the team to some wins without having to worry about sitting them more and more as the season progresses.
When the Mavericks won their championship last year, they showed that they had great team chemistry. That should carry over to this season as well.
For other teams it may take a little while to get adjusted and tweak any problems they encountered last year, however Dallas will continue to do well and make a deep playoff run. Dirk will still be scoring, Kidd will still be passing, Tyson Chandler is still a great defender and they have a great set of role players.
Another reason the Mavs will continue to thrive in a shortened season is the fact that they are also getting old. Kidd is 38, Terry and Stojakovic are 34, and Marion and Nowitzki are 33. With a shortened season, Dallas can rest their older players and will be able to dominate throughout the season and playoffs.
The Knicks are finally looking like playoff and possibly title contenders for the first time in years. They have some great star power in Anthony and Stoudemire, but there are a couple reasons why they would do even better in a shortened season.
First of all, the Knicks do have a good trio of Anthony, Stoudemire and Billups, but beyond that their roster isn't too impressive. They don't have much depth, and that could result in their downfall if one of their star players in injured. During their playoff series against the Celtics, they struggled in games without Billups or Stoudemire and failed to find scoring options other than Melo.
Also, both Anthony and Stoudemire have had histories of having nagging injuries. Stoudemire has always had knee problems whereas Anthony struggles with back problems. A shortened season and a smaller probability of a key player getting injured will mean that the Knicks will have less to worry about.
Boston's window of opportunity for winning a championship is closing fast, as their original Big Three of Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are now a combined 105 years old. Allen is 36, Garnett is 35, and Pierce is 34, all old ages for NBA players.
On top of that, Allen and Garnett both have contracts that expire after this season. This may be the last season the Celtics target a championship before they end up blowing it all up and rebuilding. That being said, the Celtics will need to be in shape when they enter the postseason, and a shortened season can help them with that.
If there are only about 50 games this season, then you can expect Boston's older players to be fresh when they enter the postseason and play with a hard fought intensity that could possibly lead them to a championship.
There is no doubt that the Lakers are a very old team. They are the second oldest team in the league, and six of their players have at least 12 years of experience. Among those six are key players Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Ron Artest and Derek Fisher.
In fact, the only player in their starting lineup who is still under 30 is Andrew Bynum, and he has struggled with injuries for a log time. He's never started more than 65 games for a season in his whole career. Add in the fact that Kobe Bryant is also starting to have knee issues, and it's a reason to worry for the Lakers.
Although they still have a few years, their championship window is starting to close and they need to take advantage of this shortened season if they want to win again. With everyone on a fresh pair of legs, maybe they can play like they did when they won back to back championships just a couple years ago.
The Miami Heat may be the team with the most to gain if there is a shortened season. Outside of Bosh, Wade and LeBron, the Heat may have the weakest bench in the league. The Heat owe their Big Three $47 million this season, and that means that their roster is filled with role players. This also means that if one of the Big Three gets a severe injury, they would be in big trouble.
With a shortened season the Heat's key players would all still be full of energy and ready to go come playoff time. They would be on fresh legs and teams would find it almost impossible to contain all three superstars.